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This Is Your Rainforest on Drugs, Ice Caves!, Olympic Guests Get the Bronze (Water)
Our top picks: today's environmental news and best #greenreads.

Tick tock: The Environmental Protection Agency has until June 1 to issue a draft of new rules designed to cut emissions from America’s 1,500 power plants. Not only is time of the essence, but the rules need to be Goldilocks-perfect—not too strict, not too loose. And the agency may even structure a way for states to have flexibility in their compliance, with the option to enact cap and trade programs or smart grids. (That idea, by the way, was courtesy of the Natural Resources Defense Council, which publishes OnEarth.) At every turn, of course, the EPA will have to anticipate the lawsuits its plan may have to weather after its release. It’s an unenviable job, but the result may well be historic. New York Times

The new almanac: The Obama administration announced yesterday a new network of regional “climate hubs” that will provide farmers with information and technology needed to mitigate the effects of climate change. The experts plan to help farmers deal with higher nighttime temperatures, smaller snowpacks, rain on the scarecrow, wildfire risk, and waves of warm weather pests. National Geographic

Would you drink it?: Troubling, disgusting reports have started pouring out of Sochi in advance of the 2014 Winter Games. But of all the complaints of environmental destruction, stray dog roundups, and shoddy hotels, a Chicago Tribune reporter has stolen the spotlight with a picture of her hotel’s drinking water—if you want to call it that. The liquid most closely resembles urine and the concierge desk recommended that she not use it on her face “because it contains something very dangerous.” Now, who’s ready for some ice skating?! Huffington Post

Sochi sorrow: In other news that’ll probably ruin the Winter Olympics for you, a Russian company captured eight wild orcas (a.k.a. killer whales) last year in the hopes of displaying at least one of the animals at the Winter Games. If you’ve seen Blackfish, then you already know why this is a terrible idea. If not, then ask yourself how confining massive open-ocean mammals to a bathtub is a celebration of human athletic spirit. OnEarth

Hey, where’s our cut?: There’s not much good that comes out of coal mining. Extracting it from the ground scars the earth and puts miners in harms way. And burning the fuel generates massive pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. But at least taxpayers receive royalty fees when coal companies mine federal lands, right? Well ... a new report suggests the coal industry in Montana and Wyoming may be creating artificially low prices for export, thereby kicking back less to the taxpayers. So, they are exacerbating climate change at a discount! Reuters

Slash and smuggle: A new study shows the drug trade is putting a hurting on rainforests across Central America. Everywhere the smugglers set up shop, they exacerbate deforestation by cutting out roads and landing strips for airplanes. They even “convert forests into agricultural businesses as a way to launder their drug profits.” When the traffickers get paid, mo money makes mo problems by flooding the areas with guns, violence, and the confidence to expand operations—leading to more deforestation—and the cycle continues. The paper’s title sums up the problems’ overlap: “Drug Policy as Conservation Policy: Narco-Deforestation”. Mother Nature Network

DAILY DISTRACTION

Cave of wonders: In Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, one can access otherworldly ice caves only when Lake Superior freezes to a certain thickness. The Great Lake has finally done so for the first time since 2009, and the images will blow your icicle-loving mind. (Just watch out for wampas.) Colossal

OTHER HEADLINES

7 Ways the $1 Trillion Farm Bill Affects You OnEarth

U.S. Fines Three Oil Companies $93,000 For Mislabeling Crude Oil Reuters

Oregon Offshore Wind Energy Farm Project Announced Associated Press

Google Earth: How Much Has Global Warming Raised Temperatures Near You? Guardian

Tips: @OnEarthMag (tag it #greenreads)

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